The Race to Minnesota: Week 16
So, this is it. The absolute last chance saloon for those teams still wanting to extend their season. Several fell by the wayside in Week 15 either by way of others closing the door for them or, having had it left wide open for them, failing to walk through it (I’m looking at you Dallas!).
Here is how the Play Off picture looks after Week 16:
All titles are settled in the AFC. The Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars and Chiefs all locked in atop their respective divisions. Home field advantage is still up for grabs and, with the Patriots hosting the Jets and the Steelers hosting the Browns, there is still chance of it going either way.
The Ravens jumped back in to the Wild Card spot courtesy of their Saturday night win over the Colts and the Bills losing to the Patriots. They have the Bengals this week and know victory will secure their Play Off spot.
The Titans and Jaguars both lost in true AFC South style, which meant the Titans lost out on the chance to take the division title. They do still sit in the Play Off spots currently, but if they don’t snap their 3 game losing streak, it could be a long close season in Tennessee. I’d be amazed if they aren’t accepting applications for the Head Coach position before next year.
The chasing pack thinned out a little last week, leaving just two still trying to gatecrash the party…
In the hunt
Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) – the Chargers need to beat the Raiders and hope that the Titans lose to the wounded Jaguars. With the way the Titans are capitulating, it’s not that long of a shot that the Chargers still make the post season.
Buffalo Bills (8-7) – how much is Sean McDermott ruing that decision to put Nathan Peterman in for the game against the Chargers? Of course, there’s nothing to say they would have won with Taylor under centre, but it certainly can’t have helped. They absolutely have to beat the Dolphins this week, and then need either the Ravens to lose or both of the Titans and Chargers losing. It’s a very long shot for a team that controlled their own destiny not too long ago.
The NFC (finally!) is a pretty clear picture now too.
The Eagles locked up home field advantage, which could be particularly significant now that Nick Foles is running the show.
The NFC South continues to be a bizarre playpen of football. The Panthers were VERY nearly the team to be caught out by the Buccaneers, and the Saints came out victorious in what has fast become a bitter matchup in recent weeks. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility they’ll meet again before season end.
The Rams secured the NFC West courtesy of their win over the Titans, and set on record what feels like a changing of the guard for the West.
The Wild Card order could well change over the course of Week 17, but there is only one team left that could squeeze in now…
In the hunt
Seattle Seahawks (9-6) – it was “Do or die” for the Seahawks against the Cowboys last week and, thankfully for Seattle, Dallas chose to die on the field in front of everyone. It was an ugly affair and not one that would have worried too many when watching the Seahawks. They now need to beat the Cardinals and hope the Falcons lose to the Panthers for them to sneak in the back door. Far from an unrealistic scenario to be honest.
So there we go. One more week and one more chance for those still wanting to make January football!